Hubble spies Neptune-like exoplanet bleeding hydrogen into space

Shane McGlaun - Jun 25, 2015, 7:30am CDT
Hubble spies Neptune-like exoplanet bleeding hydrogen into space

The Hubble Space Telescope has made some of the coolest discoveries in the universe since it has been in use. One of the latest discoverers made using the Hubble is a massive cloud of hydrogen dubbed “The Behemoth.” This massive cloud of hydrogen has bled off from an exoplanet orbiting a nearby star and it looks like a massive comet tail.

The planet bleeding off all of the hydrogen is about the size of Neptune according to scientists. The reason it is losing so much hydrogen into space is due to evaporation of its atmosphere caused by extreme radiation from the parent star pelting the planet.

This phenomenon has never been seen around an exoplanet so small. Scientists say that it offers a look at how other planets with hydrogen-enveloped atmospheres might have their outer atmosphere layers evaporated by parent stars.

Once the atmosphere is evaporated off, the solid rocky core is left behind. Researchers say that while the cloud of hydrogen bleeding off the planet is very impressive the evaporation rate doesn’t threaten the planet at this time. The bleeding planet has been named GJ 436b and is considered a “Warm Neptune” because of its size and the fact that it is significantly closer to its parent star than our Neptune is.

SOURCE: Phys.org


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